VANCOUVER — A new-look Invictus Games is coming to Vancouver and Whistler, featuring winter adaptive sports for the first time.
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, announced Friday that the two B.C. municipalities have won the bid to host the eight-day international sports competition for wounded and ill military veterans in February 2025.
"As Invictus continues to adapt and evolve, I am extremely excited to announce that the Invictus Games Foundation has selected Canada to host the first-ever Winter Hybrid Games in 2025,” Prince Harry, founder and patron on the competition, said in a statement.
“The Invictus Games Vancouver-Whistler 2025 will offer a global platform to expand the range and profile of winter adaptive sports."
The games will feature alpine skiing, nordic skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling as well as swimming, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.
Over 500 athletes from more than 20 nations are expected to compete.
"We think that that combination of both indoor, traditional sports and new, innovative winter sports in a pioneering, hybrid format will be particularly exciting for competitors and their friends and families," said Nick Booth, CEO of True Patriot Love, a Canadian foundation that supports military members, veterans and their families.
True Patriot Love is partnering with local governments and First Nations, the provincial government and the federal government to host the 2025 games. The foundation previously helped put on the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.
"We learned (in 2017) just how popular the games are in Canada," Booth said. "The Canadian public really came out to support, celebrate and volunteer. And we're sure the public of British Columbia will do the same."
London hosted the first Invictus Games in 2014. This year's competition is currently being held in The Hauge.
Booth is in the Netherlands, taking in the event and said he's been inspired once again by what he's seen.
"They're all amazing events. They change — in fact, they save — people's lives. I've met people who've told me they're alive because of the Invictus Games," he said.
"Part of this journey for the athletes is not just the physical journey. Part of it is the sense of recognition and celebration they get from the crowd."
Vancouver and Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and both municipalities are backing a bid by local First Nations to hold the 2030 Winter Games.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press